By Mike Gibson @papreps on May 29, 2014
Every athlete has experienced the feeling of utter anguish of something they would like to do over. It’s that first high hanging curveball you threw that went over the little league fence. It’s that catch you didn’t make in the end zone of a high school football game.
Coaches have those moments, too, and Temple coach Matt Rhule had five games he might like to have back from his inaugural season. Here are those five games.
Facing the No. 125th-ranked rushing defense in the country, Temple attempted 47 passes, 11 of them over 50 yards. The Owls tried to run the ball only 17 times against a team that was gouged in the running game by both Fresno State (63 points) and North Texas State (41 points), two teams closer in talent level to Temple than Idaho was.
Temple lost to Fordham in pretty much the same way it lost to Idaho: Poor game-planning. The Owls have two legitimate Division I tailbacks in Kenny Harper and Zaire Williams and should have pounded the ball with them behind a 306-pound offensive line, given the fact that Fordham’s defensive line averaged 247 pounds. Even St. Francis of Loretto learned that lesson as tailback Kyle Harbridge was able to gain 297 yards on 29 carries a week later.
Temple led 28-7, but instead of running the ball to kill some clock in the second half against a poor SMU run defense, the Owls elected to throw the ball and stop the clock, giving talented SMU QB Garrett Gilbert eight second-half possessions. Gilbert led his team to touchdowns on seven of those possessions. After a 50-yard run by Williams in the first half, the Owl coaches seemed to forget he was on the team, enabling Gilbert to do his damage.
The Huskies had trouble against the Owls’ offensive line and Williams in the first half, as the talented freshman burst up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown with 8:49 left until halftime, giving the Owls a 21-0 lead. Again, the Owls eschewed the running game which allowed the Huskies to come back for the win. Williams, despite averaging seven yards per carry in that game, was allowed only six carries, a real head-scratcher.
TU fans will have to stew over this loss until 2020 because that will be the next time the two schools are scheduled. After the game, RU fans had to thank Rhule for not going for a QB sneak with 4th-and-three inches and his two best athletes (Kyle Friend and P.J. Walker) handling the ball. RU had no timeouts and, if the Owls had gotten four inches, they would have taken three knees. Instead, TU tried a hand-off three yards deep that was stuffed.
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